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Hot Summer 2


What do I do (sometimes) when I’m bored and “unable” to do something about it? I check Strawberry Singh’s weekly challenges, but not because they are boring too, but because at least I can spend some time pondering about the questions she and her voluntary contributors think may be of interest to the rest of the SL world. Like for example, the 20 Personal Questions posted on May 26. I went over some of them –and stopped halfway– the same day the meme hit the net, and then I quit. Hell, this is a long list! Today, my seventh rezday barely a day away, I think some of the inquiries provide the regressive temper moments like this call for. So let me torture you with words, shall I?

  1. When and how did you discover Second Life? – I discovered Second Life in the spring of 2006. Back then I was –such as now– freakishly bored of video games (do you see the pattern, don’t you?), so I went looking for something different. I was browsing the Game section of an online software review site, when I found a comment regarding Second Life. I searched for the program, read the description, decided to download the client, created an account (using a name I’ve already adopted  for other virtual ventures and a randomly available surname provided by the SL registration form), and that’s how the first version of my virtual self was born. I remember logging in for like 30 minutes and talking to other noobs in the rezzing area with no idea what to do next. Then I logged out because it was pretty late. I repeated the same steps the following day, and that was it. It would take me about a year to come back to SL, in the summer of 2007, when the second (and long-lasting) version of yours truly came into being (I had no choice but to create a new account because I forgot the full name and password of the first one). So now I’m seven years old, but I could have been eight already if amnesia hadn’t distracted me that long.
  2. Did you know about virtual worlds before or was this your first experience with them? – It depends on your definition of a virtual world. By 2007, I have had my share of entertainment with massively multiplayer online gaming, and if you esteem that closed realms like those can be classified as such (though not à la SL), then I qualify as a veteran. Other than that? Well, I was a fan of the SimCity franchise, but of course they lacked the interpersonal exchange open environments achieve.
  3. Has Second Life met your expectations? – I had no expectations of SL when I first “met” it. As I said, I was merely looking for some temporary distraction. If you consider that my first encounter didn’t last long, though, the answer might be discouraging. My second try was a different story, evidently.
  4. If you could teleport back to the first ten minutes of your avatar’s slife, what would you tell yourself? – Don’t waste your time crushing the rats and go to bed.
  5. How long did it take you to master avatar flying and driving vehicles inworld? – I think it didn’t take me too long, but I can’t be specific because I really don’t remember. My biggest “concern” was returning to my departing point, but that was promptly solved when I began to understand the SL map. In terms of vehicles, hovering crafts and air balloons were quite easy, and it only took me a really short while to maneuver a plane in a controlled manner. I found a lot more fun in sailing; it came quite naturally. Land vehicles, on the other hand… sighs. There’s no way to tame those beasts. My guess is their scripting so far hasn’t taken into account the realities of the SL world properly; they’re good on speed and looks, but steering left and right is like going berserk. In my experience, lag seems to affect them more than any other kind of transportation. Or maybe it’s me…
  6. Do you have a mystery alt? – Mystery alt? Like another me nobody knows? Nope, I don’t have such a life. I can’t even maintain a second public alt, I simply can’t. I tried that once, a long time ago, but I deleted it afterward. A couple of years later I gave it a second chance, and came up to the same conclusion. This other alt is still out there because I like its name. I guess I can’t split personalities so easily. Besides, if I’m just duplicating the same existence and doing the same things, then it’s not worth the effort anyway.
  7. Is your SL avatar a reflection of you, or someone you wished you could be? – I think it’s just me. Even in physical appearance… on a different skin.
  8. Is there an individual you met in SL that inspired you in your RL? How? – Yes, and that individual is me, somehow. It isn’t because I’m egocentric, but because SL has really push me to actually try a few things I’ve never done before in RL, even though I knew I liked them (that’s why I do them in SL to begin with). For example, gardening. I’ve never attempted that in RL because I didn’t have the means to, like owning land for such a deed. Nevertheless, at some point last year I questioned myself why I couldn’t try that for real, indoors, using pots, and so began my recent adventures in indoor gardening.
  9. Do you feel it is easier to create stronger bonds/relationships with people you meet inworld as opposed to the real world? – I think it’s just the same because relationships are driven by feelings and emotions, and those have their place inside each person, regardless of whether the “trigger” lies in RL or SL. Yet, on a very personal level I still judge real world bonds the strongest because of sensory immediacy. SL relationships are stronger than the classic pen-pals nobody seems to keep anymore, and those won the “friendship” status on their own accord. Time changes, and so do the way people interact, but people are people no matter where, when or what, so in the end, it’s all the same.
  10. Did you ever imagine or believe people could fall in love with someone they never met before Second Life? – Yes.  It isn’t something I look for myself, but it does work for other people. The sister of a good friend of mine once fell in love with a guy at the other side of the world through a chatting application. After some time, they met, confirmed they really loved each other and got married. A few years later and three beautiful kids in between, they’re still together and going strong. So I have no doubt the same can happen in SL.

Hot Summer 1

  1. How has your perspective of dating changed (or not) since you started playing Second Life? – My perspective of dating hasn’t changed in any way because of SL. I’ve never attempted and I’m not interested in dating anyone or having a partner inworld as to claim a change of perspective on virtual grounds. It hasn’t had any impact in the RL dimension either.
  2. How has your perspective of employment changed (or not) since you started playing Second Life? – Again, nothing has changed regarding this particular subject because of SL for the same reasons pointed out in the previous question.
  3. Name three things in both your lives that overlap each other significantly. – Erm… let’s see… hmm… My passion for black in fashion, my love for plants, and… and… the spirit of exploration.
  4. If you could live your life more immersively in a virtual world, would you? (Kind of like the Matrix) – Weren’t the guys in the Matrix fighting to escape from it? SL is a world with too many constrains and limited freedoms. It’s not even a democratic place. We are subjected to too many restrictions, the worse of which come from technology itself. It doesn’t sound like paradise to me. So I think I will answer with a No.
  5. How do you think behavior changes for people if they’re inworld vs in real world? – Anonymity is the keyword, and behind that apparent shield people tend to bring out what they not necessarily have the courage to do without that mask, either out of fear or cowardice (among other reasons). In SL, anonymity “empowers” people to do good deeds and not so good deeds. Probably the first thing all of us think of is the way some folks take pleasure in harassing other fellow residents, but consider those others that have established or are experimenting with other types of relationships that they don’t necessarily attempt in RL, like same-sex relations, which some believe are more common inworld than they are in RL settings. Personally I think that kind of experience let people learn a lot about themselves and those around them both inworld and in RL. And that’s good. For what I can tell there’s more openness and tolerance in SL than there’s outside, regardless of the sporadic griefer infestations throughout the grid from time to time.
  6. How has Second Life consumerism changed your perception of spending habits, the value of money, the need to be “bleeding edge” with fashion? – SL is but a learning platform. You can learn economics in here as you do in RL. I always care about my spending habits in RL, and I do the same in SL.
  7. Do you think virtual worlds like SL drive and redefine human interaction or do they narrow and limit it? – SL is another medium for human interaction. As such it definitely expands the human dimension. I think it’s too much to say SL redefines it, but certainly it doesn’t narrow it.
  8. If technology progressed tomorrow to allow you to send emotions to people the way you’d send text or voice messages, would it enrich your SL experience or infringe on it? – Hmm, sending emotions to someone else? What the hell does that mean? To be capable of sending certain stimulus to a receiver, and to cause him or her to feel or “translate” that signal into some meaning, and in doing so stir an emotional response at that end? Am I getting it right? If so, I think SL already has that capability of “sending” emotions to other people, the way a work of art expresses –and thus “sends”– an artist’s impression of an emotion to an interpreter. Or is it the other way around? Is it feelings what you would like to exchange? Anyway, I’m sure what we do in SL can stimulate and trigger emotions because SL, as a tool, is not what defines them. I may be wrong of course, I may have misunderstood the concept. But that wasn’t the question anyway… It will enrich my SL experience if I’m able to understand other people’s emotions (isn’t that empathy?), but it may infringe on it if that forces me to experience something I’m not interested in or that may hurt me. So it all depends on the generator’s purpose at sending emotions in the first place and what I decide to make of them.
  9. Name three skills you attribute to having learned or honed in second life alone. – It’s always three, eh? Is three a magic number? Ok, three skills I attribute to SL alone? How to TP travel maybe? I don’t know. I think there’s not a single thing I have learned in SL that haven’t received some input from outside sources at some point.
  10. If your grand kids googled your Second Life Avatar’s name, would they be intrigued, disgusted, proud or something else?
    I don’t know. They are entitled to believe or make out of that “discovery” whatever they decide to. I enjoy what I’m doing, and I don’t think I’m doing anything so extraordinary as  to tilt the balance in any specific way. They may even think what an ordinary life I had. Who knows…